Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Love never fails

Emily is my elder sister. When she first arrived, nothing but gloom overshadowed her joyful existence. Mom wanted a son so badly after the birth of Madeline that it was almost too much for mom to accept Emily. Dad, on the other hand seemed to be calm without any emotion. Mom was under a lot of pressure from my paternal grandparents for a son. To her, Emily’s existence only added more pressure than pleasure. And to me, knowing Emily opened a window to a story of an unwanted child.

I came three years after Edward was born. Unlike Emily, life was good for me. My parents celebrated my arrival like they celebrated Edward’s and Madeline’s. The reason was obvious though I, myself, am not proud of it. Emily was rejected because almost everyone wanted a son. After Edward was born, their dreams were fulfilled. Though I am a girl born to the Pinkston family, my arrival was a great delight just like Madeline’s because there was no pressure from anybody for a long awaited son. Emily did not have the luck that I had. Mom thought of her as a burden to herself for the two years before Edward came. And she still thinks of her that way…till this day.

Emily was slower than all of her other siblings. She learns slower than us, she finds difficulties in catching up with us and she is shy. She could be easily mistaken as a mute by those who do not know her. She was put in grade two with Edward when she should be in grade four. And having Edward, as the brightest child in our family did not help the situation Emily was in. Her already skydiving self-esteem is always further tested by mom’s sarcasm. I was Emily’s younger sister and best friend. She adored me just the way I adored her. And to be perfectly honest, I seemed to be the only Pinkston that loved her the way she is.

Emily and I shared the same passion for poetry and arts. I loved almost everything that she loved. I could hardly find anything that set both of us apart except for the fact that I was given love and care so lavishly by my family whereas my sister was almost invisible to their eyes. Though she never spoke to me about the scars in her heart, I knew they were there and I knew how much they hurt her. Five years gap in our age could not stop me from reaching out to this sister of mine. Little did she knows, she opened the door of the pain of rejection and shown me that with a heart filled with pure and genuine love, all pain could be washed away.


It was the day when the fun fair came to this dainty town of ours. All of us children were very excited and could not stop discussing about the rides that we will try on. Dad announced the night before that he would bring the whole family to the fair. All of us gave a shout of joy except for Emily but I spotted a happy smile on her face. Mom said she would prepare food for a picnic after the fair. More shouts of joy were heard. That night, as we crawled under our cozy comforter, I turned to Emily who slept beside me and said, “ Aren’t you excited about tomorrow, Emily?”

“ I am excited about it, Sarah…” She replied quietly.

I could not exactly see her face that night but I knew she was really looking forward for tomorrow. Contented with her answer, I smiled and wished her goodnight.

The aroma of sizzling bacon greeted us as we descended the stairs the next morning. All of us were in high spirit. As we sat down to have our breakfast, Edward decided to voice out his request.

“ Hey, dad… I called Larry last night and I asked him to tag along with us to the fair. Is it all right?”

“ But Ed, we only have enough place for six. We can’t possibly fit in another person,”

Edward, twelve years old at that time, dropped his spoon purposely into his bowl of cereal and sulked. It amazed me how a boy that age could act like a five year old. Still, I decided to keep quiet about it.

“ I promised Larry! He is my best friend and you knew it!”

“ Ed, come on…”

“ I want Larry to come, dad! I simply will not come without him!”

“ But, Ed… There isn’t any more room in th-”

Mom placed a hand on dad’s shoulder, interrupting him.

“ Alright, Edward. Larry can come,”

“ Honey, I am driving a car. Not a van…” Dad patiently said.

“ Then someone here has to sit out then. You heard Edward. He would not come to the fair without Larry. And there will not be any fun without Edward there, will there?”

I turned to look at Emily. The sparkles in her blue eyes were gone. I shifted my attention to Edward, frowning at him.

“ Who would want to sit out, honey? Don’t be ridiculous,”

“ Emily would. She wouldn’t have enjoy it anyway,”

“ It is very unfair to Emily, honey and you know that,” Dad tried to reason.

“ She has to sit out and that is it!” Mom replied sternly before turning to Emily. “ You do want to sit out, don’t you Emily? You did not think of going to the fair in the first place, did you Emily?”

Blood was drained from Emily’s face as she quickly looked away. I held Emily’s hand tightly in mine.

“ Speak up, Emily! Have you no response to your mother’s question?”

“ Mom! This is not fair! Emily was very excited abo-”

“ Darling dear… Don’t get involved in this, alright?” She said, cutting me off.

“ Edward! This is a family trip! It’s not fair to bring Larry and leave Emily at home!”

I was about to say more when Emily stood up and motioned me to stop.

“ Dad, I don’t really want to go to the fair. Let Edward bring Larry. They will have fun,”
I looked at her in dismay. I turned to Madeline for help but she shrugged. I hated Madeline for that. She was always keeping herself out of everything.

“ Dad! Say something!”

“ Well, it’s her decision, Sarah…”

“ Fine! I am not going either!” I said as I grabbed Emily’s hand and led her upstairs. As we went up, I stole a quick look of the dining room. They ate as if nothing happened. I could almost cried out of frustration. Being a nine year old, I just could not understand why Emily was always treated like that. And yet, Emily never grumbled about it…


Over a period of seven years, I saw many kinds of verbal and mental abuses that Emily had to endure. Many times I tried to come to her rescue but always mom would tell me, “ Darling dear, stay out of this…” How I hated mom for this. She was being so overly loving to the three of us but at the same time had this pleasure of seeing Emily struggled to stay out of her way. Even when Emily tried to avoid stepping on mom’s tail, mom always had something to say to sink her second daughter deeper into her world of broken self-esteem. And Emily took all her abuses without a single complain.

My sister grew into a beautiful young lady over the years. Sometimes, I suspected that the main reason for mom’s growing resentment towards Emily was because of this distinctive beauty that Emily had in her, inside out. Secretly, I found myself enjoying the idea of Mrs. Pinkston being jealous of her own unwanted daughter. I do love my mom, yes I do but her actions toward Emily were just so intolerable.

One day, I decided to ask Emily out for a walk. I heard from Madeline that mom was very mad with Aunt Ruth for telling her to stop picking on Emily. So, I thought it was best that Emily stayed away from her for as long as possible.

“ Emily! Let’s go for a walk!” I said the minute I burst into the painting room. I ran towards her and grabbed her by her wrist. She dropped her brush into the can of dirty water and followed me obediently.

“ But Sarah… Mom said…” She started as I led her out through the kitchen door.

“ Forget what mom said. Mom is going to start her marathon of pick-on-Emily thing soon. If we don’t get out of here, you are so in trouble…”

She gave a smile and I smiled back, urging her to quicken her pace. Together, we headed towards our own little paradise where the birds are always singing and the sound of the water running down a creek that never ceased to delight both our young hearts.

“ Sarah…”

“ Hmm? What?” I said without looking at her. A very tame squirrel is slowly approaching us and I was trying very hard not to scare her away.

“ Uh… Why is mom mad at me this time? I kept myself to the painting room the whole day today… Did I hurt her feelings again, Sarah? I am so useless…”

I shifted my entire attention to Emily. I frowned and reached for her hand. I wrapped my fingers tightly around hers and pulled myself close to her. I felt like I was the older sister to her than she was to me.

“ Emily… It’s not your problem. You never did hurt her feelings in any kind of ways. Perhaps the only mistake that made all these happen is that you were born before Edward. Mom has this bitterness in her because of the rejection that she felt when another girl was born and she blamed it on you. But don’t you worry, Emily… Mom will get over this some day…”

My words contradicted with my heart. I knew mom too well. If she were to ever get over this, she would have done so in the period of the past few years. Emily was already 21 and mom still hated her.

“ Aunt Ruth asked me to move in to her house. She said that I should not… umm… should not put up with mom anymore…” She said quietly. I was not surprised. Aunt Ruth treated Emily like her own child. This only fueled mom’s anger towards Emily.

“ What did you tell her?” I asked eagerly. I was hoping for a yes. After all, she would be happier there than to live under mom’s dictatorship over her.

Emily let go of my hand and stood up. She took in a deep breath and stretched out both her arms. I listened to her as she recited a poetry she wrote.

“ I am staying, Sarah… I could not bear to leave mom’s side,” She said right after she finished reciting. I jumped to my feet and ran in front of her.

“ What? How could you take any more mean words from her? She never treated you the way a mother should treat her own child,” I said, trying to persuade her to move in with Aunt Ruth. After all, mom never did consider Emily as one of her children before.

“ I believe she will learn to love me if I show her love, Sarah… Love never fails. There is nothing greater than love,”

“ Are you quoting from the Bible?” I asked cunningly. She flashed me a shy smile. “ Oh, come on Emily! I have my own Bible study group on Sunday!” I complained.

She laughed and so did I. Emily has the strongest faith in God than anybody else that I knew. I know that only through her stronghold of this faith that she was able to make her way through a difficult mother.


It was one of the ordinary winter evenings with the spirit of Christmas high in the air. Both mom and I were in the kitchen baking the cookies for Christmas. We were in a cheery mood and we spoke a lot about the guests we were to invite. Mom and I clicked real well if the issue on Emily was carefully avoided. Madeline and Edward were assigned to decorate the Christmas tree while dad was to sort out the junks in the storeroom. Mom just could not tolerate the sentimental side of dad. He kept everything that was given to him regardless of their usefulness. I recalled an occasion when mom opened the door of the storeroom and everything came tumbling down on her.

“ Ron!”

I remembered dad came rushing to her aid. After pulling her out of the mess, dad quickly turned his attention to the things on the floor. Mom on the other hand was practically fuming over what had just happened.

“ It’s time to get rid of these junk, dear!” She said impatiently with both her hands on her waist.

“ But honey… People gave me all these and I can’t just throw them away…” Dad tried to reason.

All of us children peeped from the kitchen. I chuckled to myself as Edward nudged me at the side, motioning me to keep my voice down. Emily smiled without a sound. She always amazed me with her ability to restrain herself from laughing out loud. I, on the other hand, found it hard to contain the laughter in me when the occasion called for it.

“ Honey, this just won’t do. Look at what we have here,” Mom reasoned as she started fishing through the mountain of junks near her feet. “ Here, a set of fishing equipments. Now tell me, Ron… When was it that you started fishing? These things are of no use to you. Just give them away to someone who can benefit from them,”

“ Fine... fine… I will sort all things out. You happy now?” Dad said with a sigh.

A nudge from mom transported me back from the trip down memory lane. She started asking questions about the shortcakes that we made last year. It was really getting boring while I waited for the third batch of the lemon bars to be ready. I wished Emily could join us in the kitchen but I knew better than to get both Emily and mom in the same room. I sighed. I watched the falling snow right outside the kitchen window. Emily once told me that those little snowflakes… they were gifts from the fairies. Suddenly, I heard a loud crash and I turned to mom. She was down on the floor clutching her side. I yelled for my dad. I could not remember much of that day with all the worries that occupied everyone’s mind.

Mom was warded in the hospital. The doctor ran through a series of examination on mom. While all of us took turns in accompanying mom, Emily stayed faithfully by her side every single day. And yet, even in her not so good condition, she still gave Emily a hard time. She refused to eat the porridge that Emily cooked. She insisted on other’s cooking. I really could not understand why she had to put all the bitterness she suffered from our grandparents unto Emily. She did not do anything wrong.

On the first Sunday of December, Emily and I went to the church while the others waited for the autopsy from the doctor. As the service ended, everyone flooded out of the church until both of us were left. I rose from my seat, ready to head back to the hospital. I started walking down the aisle, thinking that Emily was trailing behind me. Suddenly, I heard it… Just like the voices from the angels above, I heard it. The voice of a heart filled with genuine love for a mother.

“ Dear God Father in Heaven… Please keep my mother safe from any illnesses. Have mercy on her and I pray to you Lord that whatever obstacles she might have to face, let them be upon me. In Jesus most precious name, Amen…”

Slowly, I turned around. I saw Emily on her knees with her head bowed. If I were to be Emily, I might not have thought of praying for mom after all the treatment that she gave her. But I knew Emily was a different person and she always told me not to worry about her. She said that, with love, all pain could be washed away. I always thought she was just being stupid. But maybe… I was the stupid one.


“ It’s kidney failure…” I heard Madeline said.
“ But it’s okay, right? I mean, people could survive with only one kidney so it’s not something to worry about. Right?” I asked, struggling to keep the cell phone from slipping off my ear and at the same time trying to keep both my hands on the wheel.
“ It’s both. She has to go through dialysis her whole life if no replacement is found. Dad, Edward and I had our blood tested. Our blood doesn’t match with mom’s… Bring Emily here and have both your blood tested,”

I sped all the way to the hospital while explaining to Emily about mom’s condition. Her natural pinkish blush disappeared from her cheeks. I squeezed her hand and told her not to worry. As soon as we reached the hospital, we had our blood tested. My blood did not match. Ironically, Emily, mom’s rejected daughter, was the only eligible donor. It took mom several days to accept the fact that she had to have help from the daughter she hated since birth. Even that took much of our persuasion and a few occasional threats about going for dialysis her whole life to change her mind.

The operation was on the week before Christmas. I had my chance to talk to mom and Emily before they were to be wheeled into the operating room.

“ Mom, you’ll be okay and you’ll be home for Christmas…”

“ I know… I just can’t believe it’s Emily’s kidney…” She said with a solemn face. I frowned.

“ Mom! She prayed so hard for you and she is more than willing to donate her kidney to you. You know very well that she suffers from bad health all these while… When are you going to accept her as your daughter? The hard times that granny and granddad gave you when she was born wasn’t her fault and you knew it… Why mom? Why?” I said with a slightly raised voice.
It took mom a long time to answer me. An overwhelming silence filled the whole room. Any sound could have shattered the moment like a glass. The silence was just too loud for me to bear.
“ I’m tired, Sarah… Let me rest before the operation,” I sighed. I was just at the brink of giving up.


Emily greeted me with a warm smile as I entered the room. Dad was just sitting beside her. Apart from me, dad was the second person that actually shown enough concern for Emily over the years but sometimes, dad resorted to be another Madeline by keeping out of mom’s business when it comes to Emily.

“ I’ll just leave both you sisters alone, alright?” Dad said as he strode out of the room.

“ Hey… Nervous?” I asked. She shook her head gently. “ Aunt Ruth said that she’d be here after the operation. She’s on the way here from Wyoming,”

“ That is so nice of her, Sarah…”

I rested my hand on her arm. The whole issue on operation worried me deeply. Emily does not have a very good health. I was not sure if she could take the operation but she insisted.

“ Don’t worry, Sarah… After this operation, mom will learn how to love me… Love never fails…”
I smiled. Deep inside my heart, I wished things would fall into place.

The operation was successful on mom. The doctor said she would be able to recuperate in time for Christmas but no walking around too much. Initially, Emily too underwent a successful operation. But the day after the operation, she suffered from complication. Worries gripped my heart. I cried my heart out when the doctor announced that she was gone two days later.

“ Sarah… Don’t worry… Stay with mom and tell her I forgave her a long time ago. Tell her I am sorry about the troubles that stirred up after I was born… Remember that love never fails. It heals…”

That was the last words I heard from my sister. When mom was told about her death, her face paled and she did not speak a single word for days…

I went through Emily’s stuff two days after her funeral. I stumbled upon an old leather-covered book. I flipped open and I realized that it was Emily’s diary. My tears flowed profusely as I read from one page to another. She wrote since she was fifteen and many loose scribbled papers were clipped inside the worn book. One by one, her stories spilled out. I thought I knew her well but I was so wrong. Inside this diary of hers, I learned about every thing that she endured in this place she called home.

I slipped into mom’s room and sat down quietly beside her. She refused to speak about Emily after her death. I shoved the book into her hands and urged her to read on. Page by page, mom read through the diary. My eyes too were on the entries that she wrote. And I noticed how every entry ended with, ‘I’m sorry mom… And I love you…’. Silently, mom started crying. She was in such a remorse state that my heart melted and yearned to reach out for her. I held her hand in mine as she wept over her daughter.

“ She’s okay now, mom… She said that she forgave you a long time ago and she was sorry about the troubles that she brought you….” I said, trying to contain the sorrow that was inside of me.
I held mom for a long time. I knew she regretted deeply over her actions. But all was forgiven…and all pain was finally erased because of what Emily did and said.


Alone in the church, I could still hear what my sister said.

Sarah, love never fails. There is nothing greater than love. Love can take away all pain…

This is the story of Emily, my sister who taught me the power of love. True to her words, mom will learn to love her after the operation and she did.

It is never too late to start loving a person. Yes, it’s true for that was written in her last entry. And mom started to love her only after she was gone but it was never too late for I know, deep inside Emily’s heart, she knew she will one day be loved by her very own mother. When all hopes seem lost, love never fails…

*Hmmm... I wrote this for a friend's friend final assignment. I didn't really wanna give her this because yeah... you know... Nevermind... Was so reluctant when i gave her the disc. Sheesh....*


[yEn] said...

mygosh..u wrote this??? well it touched ma heart..wept a lil..especially the diary part..will be cooler if u include da content of da diary too and da poem she wrote...hehehhe...im loving da last sentence~!..ahh.i'm really imagining emily to be da super cun chic wit her angelic look lo...ahahaha..

may said...

very interestingly written story i would say.. with great english command which impressed me very much! anyway i thought it would make more relevance if only it wasn't that westernised, and by that i meant maybe it could be an asian family. cos thats when the issue of son as the continuation of family line becomes an issue. but then again thats only my opinion! =) yup love never fails.. and ya that 'MOMster' is evil..

Chen said...

nyahnyahnyah... ae...chie...i can't write asian style..i sux in it... well, thanks yea neway ppl...

Chen said...

yen, that'll be too long hor.... but neway... i was being a lil selfish cos when i wrote this i know it'll belong to somebody else's work...haih~ so i din put in much effort

[yEn] said...

ish ish...at least u gotta put it i here rite...hahaha...no la..its already good with o without da poems stuff..